Friday, August 04, 2017

The Hampton Beach Tapes -- Jed Power

Jed Power delivers the tough-guy goods again as his Xanax-popping protagonist, Dan Marlowe, finds himself accused of distributing child porn on Hampton Beach.  He's innocent, of course, but in the eyes of one cop, he's the main suspect.  So there's nothing for Dan to do but somehow clear his name.  Not an easy task, and it involves death threats to him and those he loves, a mysterious "Old Man" who seems to be running things but whom no one seems to know anything about, a rock star, a junkie stripper, and porn film makers.  People begin to die, and Dan's life gets even more complicated as the Old Man proves capable of manipulating almost every aspect of life along the beach. 

Fans of the series will welcome the return of its continuing characters, as well as a couple of somewhat surprising returns of characters in slightly different roles.  Check it out.

How Mark Twain Influenced George Herriman

Huckleberry Kat: How Mark Twain Influenced George Herriman

Song of the Day

(18) The Rays - Mediterranean Moon - YouTube:

What's the Longest Bridge in the World?

What's the Longest Bridge in the World?

Today's Vintage Ad

I Miss the Old Days

Roadside America: A Look at Mid-Century Diners


Vincent McHugh, I Am Thinking of my Darling, Signet, 1950

Relative Genius

Relative Genius: Every family has members that stand out: the sports-star brother with a shelf full of trophies, the mouthy niece who became a big-shot lawyer, the crooner cousin who made it onto American Idol. It’s enough to make you scream “Uncle!” Here are a few also-rans who, despite their own accomplishments, were overshadowed by a close relative.


Watch Bruce Willis star in 'Death Wish' remake trailer: Bruce Willis as a one-line-quip delivering vigilante? Yeah, that’s believable. What’s so weird though is seeing the whole Death Wish franchise revived 23 years after the last installment. And yet, watch the trailer and that’s exactly what’s coming our way - with an AC/DC-infused soundtrack sprinkled on top.

Major Mistake?

In what might be a major mistake, I've decided to attempt the drive to Austin for Armadillocon.  I think I can do it, and I hope I can do it, but can I do it?  I'll soon find out.  I'll have the regular stuff posted, and some other stuff, too.  I hope to be back safe and sound and feeling fine on Monday.  We'll see.

Rick Ollerman Interview -- Part Two


FFB: The Backup Men -- Ross Thomas

As I've mentioned many times before, Ross Thomas is one of my favorite writers, and rereading his books is always a pleasure.  This one is no exception.

Mac McCorkle and Mike Padillo, in their third adventure, are hired as bodyguards for the new king of a Middle Eastern country where a lot of oil has been discovered.  They're not the primary bodyguards; they're the backup men to the two primaries, Wanda and her brother, Gothar.  They'll be going up against two of the best assassins in the business, two who might even be better at their jobs than Padillo.  Everyone knows that McCorkle's not really very good, but he tags along because where would the book be without its narrator?

As is almost always the case in one of Thomas' books, hardly any of the characters are what they appear to be at first, and the road trip to get the king crowned is full of dangers that not even Padillo anticipates.  The narration is smooth is silk, the action is fast, the suspense mounts, and all too often the wrong people die (a characteristic of Thomas' books that I admit bothers me more than it should). 

If you've read Thomas before, you know how good he is.  If you haven't, what are you waiting for? 

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Rick Ollerman Interview -- Part One


First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

And now it's -- Cucumber Rage: Incensed that there were not enough cucumbers in his salad, a Pennsylvania man allegedly threatened the life of a Wendy’s employee and later sought to drive away from the fast food eatery while a police officer had his arm inside the suspect’s vehicle, according to court records.

Robert Hardy, R. I. P.

BBC News: The actor Robert Hardy, star of TV series All Creatures Great and Small, has died aged 91, his family has said. Hardy, they said, had a "tremendous life" and "a giant career in theatre, television and film spanning more than 70 years".

“The Story I’m About to Tell You Is (Mostly) a Lie”

“The Story I’m About to Tell You Is (Mostly) a Lie” (by Con Lehane) | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN: Con Lehane’s first short story for EQMM will appear in the Black Mask department of our September/October 2017 issue (on sale August 22). The author is a well-reviewed crime novelist whose work includes a series starring bartender sleuth Brian McNulty and another set at New York’s 42nd Street Library. The latest in the latter series is Murder in the Manuscript Room (Minotaur, November 2017). The author has also written short stories for our sister publication, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and he teaches fiction writing and mystery writing at the Bethesda Writer’s Center. Today’s post gives us a look at how he came up with elements of his upcoming EQMM story, and provides his answer to a perennial question asked of writers.—Janet Hutchings

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The Greatest Advertising Campaigns in History

Song of the Day

(17) DON GIBSON: Sea Of Heartbreak - YouTube:

I Miss the Old Days

12 Vintage Pictures of Fashion Icons and Pivotal Moments That Defined 1950s Style Forever

Today's Vintage Ad

This week’s tabloids

Putin’s love slave, White House rocked by sex scandal, and what Sharknado 5 star Cassie Scarbo carries in her purse, in this week’s tabloids


Emily Harvin, Madwoman (The Stubborn Wood), Avon, 1951

Dorothy B. Hughes and the Birth of American Noir

Dorothy B. Hughes and the Birth of American Noir

Another Guessing Game

Take a stab at identifying these Florida Fictioners.  Photo courtesy of Rick Ollerman.


Miami Vice TV reboot coming from Vin Diesel, NBC

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Lipizzans: The Dancing Horses of Vienna

Lipizzans: The Dancing Horses of Vienna: If you think dancing is for sissies, the battlefield ballerinas of Vienna will change your mind.

Song of the Day

(17) Hank Snow - Rockin' Rollin' Ocean - YouTube:

The 2017 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest Winners

The 2017 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest Winners

Ara Parseghian, R. I. P.

Notre Dame legend Ara Parseghian dies at age 94: Former Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian has died at the age of 94. He passed away after falling ill from hip surgery complications.

Today's Vintage Ad

I Miss the Old Days

The 'Queen of Pinups' – 32 Stunning Color Photos of a Young Bettie Page in the 1950s 

Obviously NSFW!


John Dickson Carr, The Mad Hatter Mystery, Popular Library, 1945

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Ten Best Cop Shows EVER

The Most Anthologized Essays of the Last 25 Years

The Most Anthologized Essays of the Last 25 Years 

Forgotten Hits: August 2nd

Forgotten Hits: August 2nd: Brand new to The Top 40 this week are "Words" by The Monkees (up 18 places from #48 to #30 … and the flipside of their now Top Ten Hit "Pleasant Valley Sunday"), "Thank The Lord For The Night Time" by Neil Diamond (#43 to #31) and "I Wanna Testify" by The Parliaments (#41 to #36).  Also on the move are "I Like The Way" by Tommy James and the Shondells (#29 to #24), "To Love Somebody" by The Bee Gees (#38 to #32) and "Cold Sweat" by James Brown (#49 to #8), all earning bullets this week.  

Lots of Monkees videos this time.

Bonus FFB on Wednesday: The Novel -- James A. Michener

I haven't read many books by James Michener.  I haven't even read Texas.  In fact, the only other book I've read by him is Hawaii, and I read that one because it was required in a graduate course I took on Herman Melville.  We had to write a paper comparing and contrasting Hawaii with Melville's South Seas novels.  All I remember about this is that I spent most of a Christmas break reading Hawaii and that I wrote the paper.  I have no idea what I said, but I'm sure it was great stuff.

Probably I skipped out on Michener's other books because they're so long.  As I recall, Hawaii begins with the creation of the heavens and the earth and moves on from there to modern times over the course of thousands of pages.  The Novel isn't that long, but it's still long, 435 pages in the edition I read.   So why bother?  Well, I'd bought it long ago because it's a book about a writer, about writing, and about the publishing industry.  Since the industry has changed a lot since the book's publication (1991), and it was changing rapidly even then, there's a great deal about the takeover of the publishers by large corporations.

The book is divided into four sections: The Author, The Editor, The Critic, and The Reader.  The author is Lukas Yoder, now hugely successful although his early career was nothing at all.  His success is largely owed to the editor who stuck with him and fought for him when sales were small.  He's a principled man who doesn't back down from his beliefs, and he's adjusting to the new world of publishing, with floppy discs and email.  He knows that further changes are on the way and says "No writer in 1990 can visualize in what form his or her book might take at the end of this century."  

The editor is Yvonne Marmelle (not her birth name), who's struggling with the possible takeover of her publishing house by a large German firm and with the possibility that Yoder's new novel isn't as good as the ones preceding it.

The critic is Karl Streibert, who lives in Yoder's area and who's trying to rise in the academic ranks. He hates Yoder's books but isn't encouraged to say so.

The reader is Jane Garland, and what a reader she is.  She also lives in Yoder's area, and she knows plenty about life and literature.

Michener packs the books with details about the lives of all four of his main characters.  He doesn't give a whistle for the "show but don't tell" advice that we hear so often.  He's telling a story, so  he does a lot of telling.  I'm not bothered at all by this, as I've said before.  And much of the book is about reading, with discussions about a wide range of literature.  It's a lot like a series of lectures, and we even get lectures on authors whose works the characters don't like.  I get the feeling that many of them are speaking for Michener, although I know I shouldn't think that.

There are plenty of minor characters, too, and Michener even throws in a murder mystery in the final section.  It's a weak one, since everybody's going to know almost immediately who the killer is.

In spite of the book's flaws, I had a good time reading it.  I nearly always enjoy books about books and writers, and while I doubt that I'll ever read another book by Michener, I'm glad I finally got around to reading this one.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Files of the Star Republic -- Terence Faherty

This is the second collection of Terence Faherty's stories about odd happenings in and around Indianapolis as recorded by the Star Republic newspaper's reporter of weird news.  I very much enjoyed the first collection, and my review of it is here.  I enjoyed this new (and probably final) collection just as much.  Two of the stories included here were first published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, and three others appeared in various publications.  The rest are original to this collection.

Perhaps my favorite among them is "Infinite Uticas" because I enjoy stories about alternative universes, but they all offer a little glimpse of weirdness that is often explained in an ordinary way, although sometimes with a bit of an extraordinary twist.  The final story in the book, "Alpha Centauri to Centerville," is sadly elegiac, not just for the series but for the newspaper industry, too.

The thing that's striking to me about all the stories is the warmth and humanity that Faherty always finds in the weirdness.  He doesn't moralize, but the stories always imply more than they say.  Good stuff, and a fine collection.  Check it out.

The Rise and Fall of Sears

The Rise and Fall of Sears

Song of the Day

(17) Emmylou Harris - Icy Blue Heart - YouTube:

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The 10 Best Horror Movies of All Time

Today's Vintage Ad

5 Commonly Fixed Carnival Games

5 Commonly Fixed Carnival Games


Elaine Dorian, Second-Time Woman, Beacon, 1962

I Miss the Old Days

20 Stunning Black and White Photographs of Tina Turner on Stage From Between the 1960s and 1980s

Vintage Luggage Labels - The Art of the Suitcase

Vintage Luggage Labels - The Art of the Suitcase: Walk up to the reception desk in any hotel today and ask for its luggage label, and you will receive a puzzled expression. Luggage labels, also called baggage labels, are long gone. However they used to be a small but eye-catching part of the so-called golden age of travel from approximately 1900 to the mid-1960s.

Overlooked Movies -- Rock, Rock, Rock!

I saw Rock, Rock, Rock! in the theater back in the olden days.  Nobody in a little East Texas town went to see movies like this for the plot, which involves buying a strapless evening dress.  We went to see them because of the rock stars who lip-synched their records.  Some of the stars were greats, and some we'd never heard of and would never hear of again.  If you watch the trailer, you can see why.  Alan Freed even does some alleged singing along with his band on "Rock and Roll Boogie."  Yikes.

The good news about the "plot" is that the movie stars 13-year-old Tuesday Weld, who's already too good for this kind of thing.  She lights up the screen every time she appears.  Her singing voice was dubbed by the instantly recognizable Connie Francis, who's listed in the credits.

Watching movies like this gives me an instant jolt of nostalgia. It wouldn't work for anybody who wasn't a Old Person, I'm sure, but for me it worked just fine.

Rock, Rock, Rock!

(15) Rock Rock Rock 1956 Theatrical Trailer - YouTube:

Monday, July 31, 2017

Meet the Woman Behind New York's 1800s School For Crooks

Meet the Woman Behind New York's 1800s School For Crooks

Song of the Day

(14) the temptations- i know i'm losing you - YouTube:

Sam Shepard, R. I. P.

The New York Times: Sam Shepard, the celebrated avant-garde playwright and Oscar-nominated actor, died on Thursday at his home in Kentucky. He was 73.

The Tom and Jerry Story

The Tom and Jerry Story 

Today's Vintage Ad

The strange world of book thefts

The strange world of book thefts

Jeanne Moreau, R. I. P.

French actress Jeanne Moreau dead:  Iconic French actress Jeanne Moreau was found dead at her Paris home aged 89, the district's mayor told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Monday. She was best known for playing the role of Catherine in the François Truffaut film "Jules et Jim" in 1962.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.


Charles Pettit, The Son of the Grand Eunuch, Avon, 1949

I Miss the Old Days

Bullet Bra: The Indispensable Underwear for the Sweater Girl in the 1940s and 1950s

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Best Scary Doll Movies in Horror Film History

Forgotten Hits: July 31st

Forgotten Hits: July 31st: "Light My Fire" by The Doors holds at #1 for a second week while Stevie Wonder moves up a couple of notches into the #2 position with "I Was Made To Love Her".  The two biggest movers within The Top Ten this week are "All You Need Is Love" by The Beatles (up 26 places from #32 to #6) and "Pleasant Valley Sunday" by The Monkees (up 15 spots from #26 to #9).  Other Top Ten movers include "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum (#7 to #5), "Mercy Mercy Mercy" by The Buckinghams (#11 to #7), "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane (#10 to #8) and "A Girl Like You" by The Young Rascals (#18 to #10).  

Includes a SuperChart.

From the Batmobile to the Bath-mobile, He Built them All

From the Batmobile to the Bath-mobile, He Built them All: Behold, the Bath buggy, built in 1970 for the World’s Fair in Osaka Japan, complete with a Ford Mustang engine, made by the same guy who pretty much created every cool ride that appeared on television screens during the 1960s and 70s. The Batmobile, the Flinstones car, David Hasslehoff’s car the Green Hornet car, The Munster’s car, the Monkee’s mobile– they were all the work of one imaginative man, Mr. George Barris, the original king of custom cars.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Lee May, R. I. P.

Houston Chronicle: Former Astros slugger Lee May passed away Saturday at the age of 74. 

May played first base for the Astros for three seasons from 1972 to 1974. He's best known to Astros fans as the key piece the team got back from the Reds when they traded Joe Morgan to Cincinnati. 

May was an All-Star in his first season with the Astros in 1972.

Infinite Stars -- Bryan Thomas Schmidt, editor

Infinite Stars is billed as"The definitive anthology of space opera and military SF."  It's a fair assessment, as you can probably tell by the Table of Contents listed below.  There's some of the Good Old Stuff and a lot of Good New Stuff.  It's a huge book with well over 650 pages of stories, twenty-four in all, with a fine introduction by Robert Silverberg, who also has an excellent story included. I'm glad to see great stories like Cordwainer Smith's "The Game of Rat and Dragon" included, along with "Stark and the Star Kings" by Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton.  And there's a good one by Poul Anderson, now nearly forgotten but a fixture in the digests of the '50s when I was growing up.  He wrote great space opera, fantasy, hard SF, historical novels, and more, and he was good at all of them.  Now virtually forgotten, more's the pity.

There's a generous selection of new stuff, too, with some stories original to the volume, including a new Ender story by Orson Scott Card.  Check out the Table of Contents below.  You really can't go wrong with this book.

Editor’s Note/Acknowledgements by Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Introduction by Robert Silverberg
“Renegat” (Ender) by Orson Scott Card
“The Waters Of Kanly” (Dune) by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson
“The Good Shepherd” (Legion of the Damned) by William C. Dietz
“The Game Of Rat and Dragon” by Cordwainer Smith 1956 Hugo Best Story, 1955 Galaxy SF, October
“The Borders of Infinity” (Vorkosigan) by Lois McMaster Bujold
“All In A Day’s Work” (Vatta’s War) by Elizabeth Moon
“Last Day Of Training” (Lightship Chronicles) by Dave Bara
“The Wages of Honor” (Skolian Empire) by Catherine Asaro
“Binti” by Nnedi Okorafor TOR.COM, 2015; 2016 Nebula/Hugo/BFA Best Novella
“Reflex” (CoDominium) by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
“How To Be A Barbarian in the Late 25th Century” (Theirs Not To Reason Why) by Jean Johnson
“Stark and the Star Kings” (Eric John Stark) by Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton
“Imperium Imposter” (Imperium) by Jody Lynn Nye
“Region Five” (Red Series) by Linda Nagata
“Night Passage” (Revelation Space) by Alastair Reynolds
“Duel on Syrtis” by Poul Anderson
“Twilight World” (StarBridge) by A.C. Crispin
“Twenty Excellent Reasons” (The Astral Saga) by Bennett R. Coles
“The Ship Who Sang” by Anne McCaffrey
“Taste of Ashes” (Caine Riardon) by Charles E. Gannon
“The Iron Star” by Robert Silverberg
“Cadet Cruise” (Lt. Leary) by David Drake
“Shore Patrol” (Lost Fleet) by Jack Campbell
“Our Sacred Honor” (Honorverse) by David Weber

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

The Most Bizarre Things to Eat at the 2017 State Fair of Texas 

Song of the Day

(10) Tramp On The Street - YouTube:

The Rare-Book Thief Who Looted College Libraries in the '80s

The Rare-Book Thief Who Looted College Libraries in the '80s

Today's Vintage Ad

Time to Move?

Vilcabamba – Vilcabamba, Ecuador: In this pristine Ecuadorian hippie town, residents remain active well into their eighties and nineties. 


Jeff Bogar, Confessions of a Chinatown Moll, Uni Books, 1953

La, La, La, Can't Hear You

London man slammed for ‘most dangerous house in England’

Guessing Game #3

Rick Ollerman is looking for names to put with faces in this picture, taken at the 1951 MWA banquet.  He'd appreciate any help you can give  him.

A Review of Interest (To Me, Anyway)

Lesa's Book Critiques: Dead, To Begin With by Bill Crider

The Coolest Book in the World

The Savoy Cocktail Book: The Coolest Book in the World: ithout doubt, The Savoy Cocktail Book is the coolest book in the world. It's wonderful for three reasons. Firstly, it's a one-off, the author, Harry Craddock, never wrote another book. Secondly, cocktails, in modicum, will never go out of style. And finally, it's beautiful and perfectly captures the mood of the Art Deco era.